Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director contradicts South African Health Ministry

A health worker walks between beds at a temporary field hospital set up by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Khayelitsha township near Cape Town, South Africa

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director says African countries that have not found cases of the coronavirus variant dominant in South Africa should go ahead and use the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

John Nkengasong spoke to reporters a day after South Africa announced that it would not use the AstraZeneca vaccine, citing a small study that suggested it was poor at preventing mild to moderate disease caused by the variant.

Nkengasong said just seven countries on the 54-nation African continent have reported the variant and none besides South Africa is being “overwhelmed” by the variant. None has expressed concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine. Those seven countries are South Africa, Botswana, Comoros, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia.

Nkengasong said they should speed up their preparedness to introduce all vaccines that have received emergency use authorization or approval by regulatory authorities. He also said doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to start arriving in other parts of the African continent in the next two weeks.

Africa has had more than 96,000 confirmed deaths.

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